What does Hallelujah mean?

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Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah Meaning

Song Released: 1984

Covered By: Rufus Wainwright (2007), Jordan Smith (2015), Pentatonix (2016)

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Hallelujah Lyrics

Lyrics removed by the request of NMPA


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    Jun 27th, 2017 6:24pm report

    The beginning talks of David and his chords that play hallelujah. Then came the betrayal of Sampson by Delilah and God by David with Bethsheeba. I think it speaks of the point that love betrays and not every hallelujah comes from a happy and joyful heart, but it can also come from a place of hurt and betrayal


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    Dec 3rd, 2014 12:36pm report

    I think this is definitely about a relationship he was in and its stages. References to God and the bible just parts of his comparisons to what he has been thru from the beginning of the relationship to the end. The indication to me is most relationships run this course over time. I can relate to the stages he describes in each verse. The stages are not in order, he just describes each one as he feels or remembers them. From the beginning where you have the euphoric love relationship to the when the love ends, and his best protection is to be the one to end it first (shoot first), that way you don't get hurt as much. But his love of music (maybe writing it) will always be what gets him through it, and he doesn't understand how others could not relate to that. The reference to God above is just whether God controls our destiny or not in these affairs, he doesn't know. The different hallelujah's are the example of how you feel in each stage of the relationship. It's quite simple.


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    Mar 22nd, 2015 3:40pm report

    “You see, Mario, I can’t tell you in words different from those I’ve used. When you explain it, poetry becomes banal. Better than any explanation is the experience of feelings that poetry can reveal to a nature open enough to understand it.”

    Pablo Neruda to Mario Ruoppolo
    (when asked about the meaning of a line in one of his poems)
    From “Il Postino”


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    May 21st, 2020 5:32pm report

    This in no way is a song that praises god, its in a way poking fun at religion by using the word "Halleluja"meaning good and bad. I do not like how the lyrics were changed but these lyrics scream domestic abuse: "She tied you to the kitchen chair she broke your throne and she cut your hair"...she took control of this man's life via mental or physical abuse and then in so many words made him fake it was good by forcing him to exclaim Halleluja "from your lips she drew the hallelujah". She clearly is claiming victory of this fake relationship, fake religion, whatever and he sees it and says "and love is not a victory march its a cold and its a broken hallelujah" and for whatever reason, he stays with her, he is "not somebody who's seen the light" he is suffering but "its not a cry you hear at night". All he's learned is how to sidestep her controlling behavior as he mentions in "all ive ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya" which means you never win.


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    May 9th, 2020 5:07pm report

    My own take on the interpretation of the lyrics is “reconcile the irreconcilable”, as love and life are supposed to be good and even perfect, but in reality they are surely anything but that. However, that must have have been God’s will, not ours. So all we can do is to praise the Lord, even though we don’t know why it happened the way it did.


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    Mar 15th, 2020 3:34am report

    Having read the various interpretations above, it is clear that whatever was originally meant by Leonard Cohen doesn't much matter, except to him. Like most music, what the melody, chords and lyrics mean that is most important, is how the individual interprets it. Even if Cohen was to reveal what he meant when he wrote it, would that make the song more meaningful, or less so? More than likely, it would re-enforce some people's views, while others might be disappointed, or simply ignore it and continue to interpret the words as they relate to their own experience. Isn't that what music is after all?


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    Dec 22nd, 2019 12:28pm report

    Clearly, the interpretation is personal. When I watch K.D. Lang perform it, I can feel all the angst she has known in her life, and also feel that there can never be a full recovery from deep pain. The religious references bring us back to our basic existence, suggesting that nothing we experience is new.


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    May 3rd, 2019 5:31am report

    ive told the truth.. i didnt
    come to fool you .. to me its my prayer and promise to god


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    Dec 20th, 2018 12:10am report

    Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, the real meaning is seen at wikipedia. For the latest comment, that's great, you were able to watch the special tonight and heard both of their voices and have a better understanding.

    - Same person who made comments recently


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    Dec 19th, 2018 12:31pm report

    I love it...Never knew all the lyrics, but after watching the special tonight and hearing both Leonard Cohen and K.D. Lang perform it feel I have a better understanding...It related to David/Bathsheba and Samson/Delilah...And life, love and Cohen’s own relationships...”Hallelujah”


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    Dec 18th, 2018 12:10pm report

    Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen is a very deep but at the same time clear lyrics. The latest comment clearly explained the interpretation of this lyrics.

    -The person who made comments on songs recently


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    Dec 18th, 2018 12:26pm report

    Its a twin flame love expressed. mad and crazy love thats inevitable.A spiritual , physical and emotional love altogether.


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    Oct 3rd, 2018 10:18am report

    I love what one of you said: " That's why the night has to come before the day." So true, this song speaks to everyone. The music and lyrics are genius together and this is hands down one of the best songs ever written.


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    Jul 5th, 2018 7:42pm report

    I think it was about a girl he was with who did not care about music or the part when it says "she tied you to her kitchen chair she broke your throne and she cut your hair" he was in an abusive relationship or it could be both and when he says hallelujah it's because he got away from her and he was free I love the song though.


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    May 27th, 2018 5:30pm report

    I am in love with this song, though I think I do not interprate it like a lot of people do. Actually, my interpratation is pretty weird:

    Verse 1:
    I heard there was a secret chord
    That David played and it pleased the Lord
    But you don't really care for music do you?
    Well it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall and the major lift
    The baffled king composing Hallelujah

    To me, the whole thing about the chord, the Lord and the music is about the hidden side of life, like something magic that few people know.
    And then someone that knows this magic thing is trying to explain it to someone who doesn't get it, but he can't because this person is to busy to see the real beauty of life, trying to compose a hallelujah but never reaching it.

    Verse 2:
    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You sae her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
    She tied you to a kitchen chair
    She broke your throne and she cut your hair
    And from your lips she drew the hallelujah

    In all the interpratations that I read, this verse was about sex or toxic love.
    But in my mind, and with my life, it is talking about discovering my sexual orientation.
    When he says "your faith was strong but you needed proof" it means I knew I liked girls but still I wanted a proof to feel "legit" you know.
    "You saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you"
    This means to me that, on my way looking for a proof, I found the proof. I saw this girl and immediately knew I liked her.
    So we went into a relationship but I felt like a prisoner, stuck to the chair of the psychologist that was telling me to stay discrete at school.
    So then the girl broke my thown and cut my hair, wich means she made me lose all my repairs, made me feel lost.
    But anyway she made me say hallelujah, since I liked this whole new thing, like being in couple.

    Verse 3:
    Baby I've been here before
    I know this room and I've walked this floor
    I use to leave alone before I knew you
    I've seen your flag on the marble arch
    But love is not a victory march
    It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

    Okay so my interpratation of this one is so gay.
    First, the combination of "flag" "love" and "victory march" makes me obviously think about the gay pride.
    The person has been here before, has also been discovering the lgbt community, alone because he thaugh nobody was like him.
    But now he had enough of it and he doesn't want to be see as a "rainbow poney dancing at the gay pride". Now, after the magic discovering of himself, he realizes the world is so homophobic and his heart feels like a broken hallelujah.

    Verse 4:
    There was a time you let ke know
    What's really going on below
    But now you never show that to me do you?
    I remember when I moved in you
    And the holy dove was moving too
    And every breath we drew was hallelujah

    If I wrote this and had to explain, I'd say; I remember the beginning of our love relationship, everything seems great and I thought we trusted each other. But in fact every people keeps secret, and you had a LOT of secrets. Sad secrets. And you don't answer to my textes anymore. You didn't even tell me for your suicide attempt.

    Verse 5:
    Now maybe there's a God above
    As for me all I learned from love
    Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
    It's no complaint you hear tonight
    It's not some pilgrim who seen the light
    It's a cold and it's a lonely hallelujah

    The person ask himself if God exists and if He sees us. He realizes all he learned in his life is how to "build yourself a wall".
    He says to the people listening to him singing that his "hallelujah" is not the "hallelujah" of someone crying to help, and not the hallelujah of the end of a long trip. It's just a cold hallelujah from a stone cold lonely heart.

    Yeah, this songs means all of that to me, and maybe you can see no rapport between the verses, but I do. And it's a 100% sure that Leonard Cohen was not thinking about that at all while writing, but it's just how I hear the song.


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    Apr 29th, 2018 4:12pm report

    ..... his hair cut recalls Samson whose strength was lost when Delilah cut his hair.....

    The truth of the matter is, Delilah did NOT cut Samson's hair, she had a " hand maiden " cut it for her! :-))

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Apr 11th, 2018 4:48am report

    We shouted out Hallelujah in church every Sunday as an expression of love, support, excitement, sorrow and troubles. Do you hear me brothers and sisters.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Mar 7th, 2018 3:26am report

    As a Bible student and someone who spends a bit of time analyzing song lyrics I think the song has multiple layered meanings, however this is what it is about...

    The song is about two biblical characters who allowed themselves to be lead away from God
    for a time through sin by their lusts for a woman. Forbidden love and the consequences thereof that puts a might man of God in a weakened state and their praises to God a tainted.

    David with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) whom "he saw bathing on the roof". He sent Bathsheba's husband out to war and got the army to pull back and her husband was killed and David got Bathsheba pregnant but the child died and he was in great grief for a time. Halalujah or praising God became broken and hypocritical.

    Samson, a Nazerite,(Nazarites were forbidden to cut their hair) he was the other biblical character who was decieved by Delilah and when she cut his hair his amazing stength was taken from him. By cutting his hair she took away his strength... "from your breath she drew the Halalujah".

    At the start of the song it talks of David and the mysterious "secret cord"...


    The line ‘the fourth, the fifth / the minor fall, the major lift’ is in fact a description of the chord sequence taking place under those words.

    The IV chord, otherwise known as the fourth or the subdominant, is the chord built on the fourth tone of the scale. The V chord, a.k.a. the fifth or dominant, is the chord built on the fifth tone of the scale.
    The ‘minor fall’ refers to the minor sixth chord, sometimes written as vi (to distinguish it from a major sixth chord, written as VI) which is the chord played under that phrase, and the ‘major lift’ is a reference to the fact that the chord has moved down to the major IV chord again, the same chord that was played under ‘the fourth’. It’s a ‘lift’ because although the harmony moves downwards, the melody keeps ascending. A song within a song! Those who do not understand music may not get this because...
    "you don't really care for music do you"

    Or Possibly Bathsheba in this verse is the woman that David killed for, and that the sarcasm is that the woman doesn't realize how great David's sacrifice was through breaking his relation with God by displeasing him.

    (Either way Clever by Cohen)


    The "Secret Cord" could be by Cohen an allusion to Arthur Sullivan’s immensely popular 1877 song ‘The Lost Chord’, a setting of Adelaide Anne Procter’s poem ‘A Lost Chord’. (Also the “secret chord” may refer to the Jewish tradition of an esoteric “eighth note” (to the diatonic?) which will be heard only when the Messiah comes. This would fit nicely with the fact that King David is considered, in many Jewish prayers and texts, to be a forerunner of sorts to the Messiah.)


    David would play his lyre in order to soothe King Saul’s bouts of despair and depression. David’s chord pleased the lord,(King Saul?) Later, after David killed Goliath and his legend grew, King Saul grew jealous of David. One day when Saul was in bad state, David attempted to soothe him with the lyre. But Saul’s rage got the best of him and he attempted to kill David.
    David eventually became the baffled King.

    " the minor fall" David sinned and fell from God's favour for a time but "the major lift" he later became the King God needed!

    The song is basically about the lust of the flesh or forbidden love that causes us to stray from God and causing our praise to the Lord to become tainted, broken and corrupted. It shows that even the best of us, no matter how nonle we are, whether we be saints or sinners, or go from one to the other we can all become lost, sweeped away, crazy and broken because of love, namely forbidden love.


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